Saturday, October 31, 2009

Seahawks must 'be-Ware' of Dallas D

DeMarcus Ware — who tormented the Seahawks last year with 3 sacks— is ready to play with his new contract

By John Boyle
Herald Writer

RENTON — Matt Hasselbeck had to chuckle when he was asked the question.

What, a reporter wanted to know, does your team need to do to handle Dallas’ defense Sunday?

“Well,” Hasselbeck began, “we’ve got to protect the passer. That’s always first. No, I’m kidding.”

Hasselbeck might be able to joke now about the Cowboys’ pass rush, but there was nothing funny about the way the Dallas D treated the Seahawks quarterback last season. And he’s right, protecting the quarterback will go a long ways toward helping the Seahawks’ chances of upsetting the Cowboys.

Hasselbeck was sacked seven times in a Thanksgiving Day loss last season, including three times by DeMarcus Ware, one of the game’s top pass rushers. It was the last game Hasselbeck would play last season.

This year, Ware and the Dallas defense seem to be getting better as the season goes on, which makes this a less-than-opportune time for the Seahawks to be facing the Cowboys in Dallas. After recording zero sacks in the team’s first 10 quarters this season, the Cowboys defense has 14 in the past three-and-a-half games. Since starting 2-2, the Cowboys have won two in a row, including a 16-point win over Atlanta that might have been their best performance of the year.

“They’ve got guys that can just play,” Hasselbeck said. “DeMarcus Ware is arguably the best pass rusher in the game right now.”

Ware, who signed a huge contract extension this week, will be looking for a repeat of last year’s performance to show he is worth the millions the Cowboys just agreed to pay him. Heck, you could argue that at least some of that contract was earned against the Seahawks last season.

On paper this game looks like a golden opportunity for Ware, a linebacker in Dallas’ 3-4 scheme who frequently matches up against the opposing left tackle. The Seahawks are on their fourth starting left tackle of the season, Damion McIntosh, and could not protect Hasselbeck in their last game (he was sacked five times).

Still, Ware insists he isn’t licking his chops when he sees the Seahawks’ projected lineup.

“I think you approach it the same way,” said Ware, who had 20 sacks last season. “If a guy makes any NFL team, that means that he’s good at what he does. So you can’t really just take anything for granted. You just got to get ready.”

According to a fellow hunter of NFL quarterbacks, Ware’s stats have not come cheap.

“There are some guys who get big numbers who you aren’t impressed with, but that’s not him,” Seahawks defensive end Patrick Kerney said. “He’s a guy that puts up numbers because he’s beating guys. He’s got a whole bunch of different moves. You’ll see him power guys, run around them, counter well, use his hands well, he’s a very special player.”

Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp said the Seahawks will change protection schemes to try to keep the Dallas pass rush off balance, and the schemes move Hasselbeck around so it’s a little more difficult to get to him. Another key is to run the ball with at least some success, something the Seahawks have struggled to do for much of this season.

“We’ve got to stay balanced,” Knapp said. “It’s going to be important that we have a decent run game going to keep them off balance so they can’t just tee off.”

Tatupu to IR, Trufant in

In an expected move, the Seahawks moved linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who had surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle Thursday, to the injured reserve list. His roster spot was filled by cornerback Marcus Trufant, who spent the first six games on the physically unable to perform list with a back injury.

Trufant may not start against Dallas, but should see significant playing time. Linebacker Leroy Hill, who has been out since the season opener with a groin injury, is also expected to return and will likely start.

Also expected back is left guard Chris Spencer, who has been out with an ankle injury. Kerney (groin) and Hasselbeck (ribs) both participated fully in practice Friday and should be fine for Sunday’s game. Tackle Sean Locklear (ankle) did not practice this week and is listed as doubtful.

Cowboys Pro-Bowl nose tackle Jay Ratliff suffered a knee injury in practice Thursday and did not practice Friday. He is listed as questionable for the game.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Audio: Jerry Jones lays down the law!!!

By dcfanatic, October 30, 2009 1:15 pm

Here's the Cowboys 'real' head coach letting you fans know he has decided Kevin Ogletree needs to start playing and so that is exactly what will happen this Sunday.I think that's what he said.And Oh yeah. He makes all the decisions. All of them! He will take into consideration what the 'football coaches' say but when it really comes down to it he will be deciding who plays on Sundays.And we wonder why it's been thirteen years...

LINK: Jerry Jones on The Fan

It's called being the boss and letting everyone know it.And I gotta say. I knew this was how things were being done at Valley Ranch, but to hear him being so vocal about it and basically telling the fans that this is how it is and that he could care less if we like it or not kind of made me feel sorry for Wade Phillips.I have killed Wade on many occasions.I think from now on I may not do that as much.

Five Questions: Cowboys vs. Seahawks

By Drew Magary

Every Friday, we’ll tackle five big questions for the Cowboys going into the weekend’s game.

1. Will Miles Austin have a third straight game with over 150 yards receiving? No. Seattle has a better pass defense than Kansas City and Atlanta, and Austin has clearly proven he’s no fluke. This will be the first game where Austin probably commands consistent double teams. The payoff is more room for Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett to get open down the field. And that’s one of the many delightful perks of having a true #1 wide receiver.

2. If the Cowboys lose this game, are we right back where we started? Yes. The Cowboys can’t take a step back and lose this game to an outfit that’s injured and doesn’t have the same caliber of talent. Seattle has more than enough weapons on offense to keep things close. You never know when Hasselbeck and the passing game will spring to life. But for the Cowboys to lose this game prior to their big showdown with the Eagles next week would permanently mark them as one of the league’s most maddeningly inconsistent teams. You’d hope the team would be past that after beating Atlanta the way they did. But you never know. Things turn on a dime.

3. Do I get free green beans if a punt hits the scoreboard? Again, all signs point to no. There have been no press releases from TGI Fridays this week announcing that their free fried green bean promotion has been continued, and my emails to the company demanding free green beans anyway have gone unreturned. THAT’S THE LAST TIME I VISIT YOU PEOPLE FOR A JACK DANIELS-SOAKED STRIP STEAK.

4. I think I’m over seeing if a punter can hit that stupid board. Are you too suffering from Lofty Punt Fatigue? I am. But your video board challenger this week is Jon Ryan of the Seahawks, who’s averaging nearly 50 yards a punt (his 49.9 yard average is 2nd in the league), and has boomed a 70-yarder this season. He could totally hit it. HE COULD! Ryan is the first in a line of excellent punters making their way to Cowboys Stadium. Shane Lechler comes into town at the end of November. And Mike Scifres comes in two weeks later. If none of those three men end up hitting the board, then I think PunterGate officially becomes a dead issue. So far, the board clearly doesn’t interfere enough with game play for it to really matter.

5. GAHHHHH! I ate half a bag of Reese’s cups already and it’s not even Halloween yet. Do I have a problem? If premature candy binging on Halloween is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Cowboys aiming to be humble, consistent vs Seattle

Associated Press - October 30, 2009 1:35 PM ET

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Dallas on Sunday will host Seattle as the Cowboys try to stretch their modest winning streak to three in a row.

Dallas (4-2) has won 3 of its last four games and two straight at its new $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington.

The Cowboys, after against Seattle (2-4), hit the road for Philadelphia and Green Bay.

Defensive end Marcus Spears says it's good -- to be in a good position.

The Seahawks have no idea what they are: the team that beat Jacksonville 41-0 or the team that didn't convert a third down in a 27-3 loss to Arizona.

Seattle coach Jim Mora says it's amazing how one week can change the way you think.

Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant will make his season debut, just in time to cover the NFL's new wideout sensation, Dallas standout Miles Austin.

Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns -- in the two games since he joined the starting lineup. Sudden Knee Injury Puts Ratliff Questionable

Posted by nickeatman at 10/30/2009 1:54 PM CDT on

After a seemingly injury-free week for the Cowboys, one of their best defensive players is now questionable to play Sunday.

Jay Ratliff, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle is having even a better season in 2009, sustained a knee injury in practice Friday. The Cowboys are still evaluating him and his status is uncertain for the game.

The Cowboys practiced indoors Friday at Carroll High School in nearby Southlake, one of their many practice spots of this season. The indoor bubble covers a 50-yard artificial turf field.

In six games this season, Ratliff has 31 tackles and 2.0 sacks, along with a team-high five tackles for loss.

Belichick compares Ware to L.T.

Posted by's Matt Mosley

On the day the Cowboys drafted DeMarcus Ware No. 11 overall in 2005, then-coach Bill Parcells told ESPN's Ed Werder that Ware reminded him of former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Five years later, Parcells' former defensive coordinator with those Giants teams, Bill Belichick, thinks his old boss was right.

Asked whether committing so much money to Ware would be a hindrance for the Cowboys, Belichick had this to say:
I can't imagine DeMarcus Ware hindering any team's defense," Belichick said during his daily press conference with New England reporters. "The guy's one of the best players in the league. It's like when we had Lawrence Taylor with the Giants. That guy was a force on every play. The offense had to account for him on every play. I think he helped our team defense probably as much as any player I ever coached."

Pretty heady stuff from a guy who's not normally full of compliments.

Ware's extension with Cowboys a great move

By Eric Edholm

The Cowboys are thrilled to lock up their best (and maybe the NFL's best) defensive player, OLB DeMarcus Ware, through 2015 with guaranteed money that pays him as one of the best in the NFL. He received QB-type dollars, more than the deals for Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, and just less than the $41 million given to Redskins DT Albert Haynesworth. Despite the ridiculous assertion that Ware's recent production (four sacks in his past two games) was an impetus for getting a deal done, the Cowboys hadn't wavered in their effort to get a deal done over the past year. Serious negotiations began last fall, and the Cowboys made a big statement by committing $45 million to Ware over the next three years, which is significant considering the uncertain economic forecast in the league with an expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement. Jerry Jones has spent some questionable money on player contracts recently, but this appears to be a great move for the player and the franchise.

Hawks Prepare For Dallas Cowboys

Source: KCPQ Web Reporter
9:23 PM PDT, October 29, 2009

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - - Keith Brooking slept in, enjoyed the final few hours of a visit by his brother, then went to Dallas Cowboys headquarters during the afternoon of his "Victory Monday," an extra day off players received as a reward for beating the Atlanta Falcons.

Brooking grabbed a copy of the game film but had trouble finding a place to watch it. The first three or four rooms he went into were being used by teammates watching their own copies. Then he went to work out and there were about 20 guys in the gym.

That's when it hit him. Nearly everyone showed up to work even though they didn't have to be there.

"I was actually impressed," Brooking said. "I was walking around here smiling about the amount of guys who were here. It was good to see."

As he retold this story, Brooking, in his 12th NFL season, but first in Dallas, interrupted himself and said, "Why is everybody asking me about this?"

Well, Keith, a good turnout on a Victory Monday might not be a big deal on many clubs. But for the Cowboys, it is an encouraging sign.

Rather than stretching their legs and patting themselves on the back following their best performance of the season - a reaction coach Wade Phillips sort of endorsed by giving them this treat right after their bye week - the fact that the majority of players came in anyway sends the message they're truly committed to winning.

If Phillips meant it as a test, players passed. No matter how much guys talk about accountability and dedication, this showed it. That bodes well for the Cowboys' chances of avoiding a letdown against the scuffling Seattle Seahawks on Sunday when they'll try stretching their modest winning streak to three in a row.

"Just because we beat a very good football team, we haven't arrived," Brooking said. "We're not there yet - you're never there. You've got to keep working and striving to get better every day."

Dallas (4-2) has won three of its last four games and two straight at its new $1.2 billion stadium. Suddenly, going down to the wire in losses to the division-leading New York Giants and unbeaten Denver Broncos sounds less like a cop-out and more like a reason to believe the Cowboys could be NFC contenders.

The next few weeks should be a good test. After showing whether they can handle prosperity against Seattle (2-4), the Cowboys go to Philadelphia and Green Bay. A win Sunday guarantees a winning record when they return home for their final two games of November.

"For right now, it's good to be in a good position," defensive end Marcus Spears said. "But at the end of the day, you've got to put more wins together and be a solid team throughout the whole season in order to be what you want to be."

The Seahawks have no idea what they are: the team that beat Jacksonville 41-0 or the team that didn't convert a third down in a 27-3 loss to Arizona.

"It's amazing how one week can change the way you think, isn't it?" Seattle coach Jim Mora.

The weird thing is, those huge swings didn't come in random games among the first six. They are the last two the Seahawks played, followed by a bye.

During the time off, they ended any hope of Walter Jones returning to stop the spinning turnstile at left tackle. He went on injured reserve and Seattle brought in a fifth option: Damion McIntosh, who'd been unemployed since Kansas City cut him in training camp and wasn't even invited back when the lowly Chiefs needed a lineman.

With problems all over the offensive line, it's no surprise quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is hurting. His broken ribs aren't totally healed (five sacks vs. the Cardinals certainly didn't help), so he missed several practices this week. Still, Mora insists he's sticking with Hasselbeck as the Seahawks try salvaging their season.

"We've just got to develop a consistency of execution and the only way we're going to do that, given our situation, is time and some patience while you push through it," Mora said. "Our guys have stayed focused and I know they're going to compete their best."

Seattle cornerback Marcus Trufant will make his season debut, just in time to cover the NFL's new wideout sensation, Miles Austin.

Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns, and that's merely in the two games since he joined the starting lineup. Having him a deep threat changes everything for Dallas, opening up the running game and intermediate routes for tight end Jason Witten.

That is, unless teams continue to dare the fourth-year guy to prove he hasn't merely had a couple of lucky games.

Mora doesn't seem to think so, noting Austin's speed and his ability to win the "50-50" battles for passes that could be caught by the receiver or defensive back. Mora also has gotten some insight from running back Julius Jones, who was on the Cowboys when Austin arrived as an undrafted signee from Monmouth University.

The first time he saw Austin run, Jones said, "Who is this cat?" Austin was primarily a kick returner during Jones' tenure.

"He's still running with that smile on his face," Jones said. "He's an unbelievable athlete. All you have to do is give him the ball. ... He's (showing) what you should do with an opportunity."

Weekly Freakout: Marion Barber

Posted By Bill Bender 11:28 AM

I remember wanting to take Marion Barber in the first round of my last experts draft. I struggled with it up until it was my turn to make the last pick of the first round.

Should I do it? Should I do it? In the end, I chose Steve Slaton. Barber owners probably will tell you I made the right choice.

Barber (pictured) has struggled since returning from a quad injury, and it seems likes it’s only a matter of time before Felix Jones takes over the spotlight in Dallas. Is this true? Is it true?

Let’s take a closer look.

Barber averaged 101.5 rushing yards with two TDs in Weeks 1-2. At that point, I was kicking myself. Then he suffered a quad injury and missed Week 3.

In three games since returning -- with a bye week tucked in -- Barber is averaging 47.0 rushing yards per game with just one TD. He’s averaging 3.5 yards per carry in that stretch.

Another disturbing trend is Barber’s lack of involvement in the passing game. He has just five receptions for 59 yards this season. In 2008, Barber had a career-high 52 receptions for 417 yards. He’s on pace for 157 receiving yards.

So yes, Barber’s struggles are worrisome.

But Jones will be the bigger problem. Never underestimate Jerry Jones’ role in the team's plans. Christopher Walken wanted more cowbell. Jones wants more Felix Jones. The second-year back from Arkansas regained backup duties from Tashard Choice, who also had been effective in his own right.

Had Jones not suffered a knee injury in Week 3, he would be in the starting lineup. Dude is averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Don’t be surprised to see an even split against the Seahawks this week.

That’s not to say you should write Barber off this week (or for the rest of the season). Let’s answer those one at a time.

This week? The Seahawks have a mediocre run defense; they are ranked 14th in that department, but they allow 4.3 yards per rushing attempt.

Barber had 45 total yards and a TD against Seattle last Thanksgiving. Pencil Barber in for 60 total yards and a TD, but pay close attention to how much (and how quickly) the Cowboys turn to Jones.

Rest of season? Jones looks great now, but Barber will be needed over the next five weeks. Dallas does a round-robin tour of the NFC East, with trips to New York and Philadelphia. The Cowboys also visit Lambeau Field in a game that likely will have playoff implications. Experience matters in big games. That’s why Barber will still touch the ball in the red zone. I say hold on to him, but expect RB2 and sometimes flex production moving forward.

Your thoughts? Would you rather have Barber or Jones? Will you trade Barber before your league’s trade deadline?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

NFL Insider: Tony Romo's No. 1 target? Might be Miles Austin

By Jim Corbett

After following up his breakout game with another two-touchdown encore Sunday, Miles Austin has earned the trust of quarterback Tony Romo and begun to answer the offseason mystery that shrouded the Dallas Cowboys: Who would replace Terrell Owens as their big-play wide receiver?

It turns out the guy no one saw coming has been on the roster for four years, quietly working behind the scenes before the former undrafted free agent burst onto the scene with 16 catches for 421 yards and four touchdowns in back-to-back wins.

Discovered by scout Jim Garrett, father of Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, Austin (6-3, 214 pounds) has run with the opportunity to fill T.O.'s void. His big chance came against the Kansas City Chiefs on Oct. 11 with Roy Williams nursing a rib injury.

POWER RANKINGS: Cowboys cannot crack the top 10
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Williams was back Sunday but had more drops (two) than catches in the Cowboys' 37-21 rout of the Atlanta Falcons.

Austin? He followed his 10-catch, 250-yard, two-TD effort in a Week 6 win against Kansas City with a team-best six catches for 171 yards and two more TDs against Atlanta. Austin's 59-yard second-quarter TD put the Cowboys ahead to stay 10-7.

"Miles has become a good receiver in the NFL," Romo said. "Before that, the perception of him was a third, fourth, fifth receiver. I think you saw he has the ability to be a guy who can be a big-play receiver.

"I feel very confident in him."

Austin replaced Patrick Crayton in the starting lineup against the Falcons and responded with touchdown grabs of 59 and 22 yards.

It finally seems the Cowboys have a playmaker who can stretch the field and open things underneath for Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, a facet they have lacked since owner Jerry Jones opted to part with Owens.

When Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman first saw Austin, a product of tiny Monmouth College (N.J.), he reminded Sherman of former Buffalo Bills receiving star Andre Reed.

Though raw, Austin was an aggressive, fearless route runner with sure hands and explosive production that included 33 touchdowns during his Monmouth career.

Sherman was with the Tennessee Titans when he and then-Cowboys assistant director of pro scouting Brian Gaine attended Austin's 2006 pro day workout at Monmouth.

Sherman lobbied the Titans to draft Austin in the sixth round. He lost that battle but won a year later when he wound up with the Cowboys after Gaine had convinced then-head coach Bill Parcells and scouting director Jeff Ireland to sign the 6-3, 214 Austin, who ran a 4.4-second, 40-yard dash.

"I fought like heck to try and draft him with Tennessee," Sherman said. "Maybe it was the way things were meant to be.

"I was glad to come here to coach him.

"If he continues to work hard, there's no telling what can happen for Miles."

Austin doesn't even consider himself the team's No. 1 receiver, so he's not going to be in Romo's ear demanding the ball, a la T.O., now suffering through a disappointing year with the Buffalo Bills.

"Miles has been doing good things," Romo said. "He's been working hard and waiting on his opportunity.

"He's obviously a big part of this offense. I'm glad to see that all the hard work, time and effort that he put in is paying off.

"He's a good guy, and he deserves what he gets."

Austin's take?

"I can never let myself get comfortable," he said. "The pressure is always going to be there.

"If I play bad next week, you'll say I'm a two-hit wonder."

The Dallas Cowboys embrace their mystique, but negative perceptions are unfair say four players from Oregon

By Aaron Fentress
The Oregonian

When Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Pat McQuistan returns home from a day of practice, he often watches television to catch up on the day's sports news.

He said frequently there will be a negative piece on the Cowboys that doesn't always ring true.
"Sometimes you hear something and you were not aware of it all day long," the four-year veteran out of Lebanon High School said.

And often, according to four Cowboys players with ties to Oregon, the stories are false or exaggerated. But each said that comes with the territory of playing for Dallas (4-2), which plays host to the Seattle Seahawks (2-4) on Sunday.

McQuistan and the others from Oregon said that from the media scrutiny and a rabid fan base to the team's new $1.3 billion stadium, playing for the Cowboys is unlike anything they've ever experienced.

Winner of five Super Bowls, the Cowboys were dubbed "America's Team" during a 1978 highlight video produced by NFL Films, and the moniker stuck. The team has received attention comparable to that given to the New York Yankees.

That intense media scrutiny helped shape the image of the franchise for former Oregon defensive end Igor Olshansky during his five years with San Diego, which made him a second-round pick in 2004.

Examples are plenty: The frequent and sometimes controversial sound bites from owner/general manager Jerry Jones. Quarterback Tony Romo's affair with singer Jessica Simpson. The trials and tribulations of since-departed wide receiver Terrell Owens.

Before that, there were the legal issues of former wide receiver Michael Irvin in the 1990s, involving drugs, women and a place called "The White House" where players reportedly engaged in all sorts of illicit activities.

In other words, the Cowboys resembled a three-ringed circus filled with egomaniacs.

Olshansky said he discovered otherwise.

"When you come down here, you realize the news reports are far from the truth," he said. "This is a good team, a young team, and a team that works hard everyday. It's been a pleasant surprise."

Defensive tackle Junior Siavii, who spent two seasons with Kansas City after he was selected one pick ahead of former Oregon teammate Olshansky, said the Cowboys create a family atmosphere. But he said the outside scrutiny can be harsh, especially with expectations always high for a team that has won one playoff game since 1996.

"Whether we win or lose it's still a problem," he said. "If we win, it's still not good enough because people say we got lucky."

One indisputable aspect of the Cowboys is the team's nationwide popularity.

Rookie linebacker Victor Butler, a fourth-round pick out of Oregon State, said he was taken aback by seeing thousands of fans at training camp practices held in San Antonio.

And road games are no different.

"It's crazy," Butler said. "You go to the hotel and there's 300 Dallas Cowboys fans -- in Tampa Bay!"

Siavii said it seemed as if there were more Dallas fans than Kansas City fans during their game Oct. 11.

Said McQuistan, whose twin brother, Paul McQuistan, plays offensive line for Oakland: "There's always a lot of people there cheering and wanting autographs. It's really a great feeling. When other veterans come in there, they say it's not like that with every club."

Still, Olshansky said, the attention can get overwhelming.

"In training camp it's pretty hard," he said, "when every day at practice there's 10,000 fans and all screaming your name and wanting to get your attention to get autographs, and you're tired."

No team has as many fans currently cheering for them in person on game day than Dallas, which opened an 111,000-capacity domed stadium that is the largest of its kind in the world.

"It's awesome," McQuistan said. "The first time I saw it was during a concert, and it's amazing. I was thinking, 'You got to be kidding me. We get to play football here.'"

Cowboys Stadium includes amenities out of the norm. The centerpiece is the largest high definition video screen in the world, which hangs above the field and measures 11,520 square feet (160 feet across and 72 feet high).

"Sometimes the reason we all look up there is because you can see the game better than watching from the sideline," Butler said.

While members of the world famous Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders can be seen on the field, some also can be found dancing on stages near the concourse level. Players enter the stadium through a walkway that runs through a club suite area where fans can take photos and high-five players and pat them on their backs.

"It's definitely an experience like no other stadium," Olshansky said.

Each player said the circuslike atmosphere is not a distraction.

"For me, it's still football," Olshansky said. "I don't let anything get to me. But it's fun."

In many ways, the stadium could be viewed as a fitting jewel in the Cowboys' kingdom of excess.

"It's kind of like you dress good, you play good," Siavii said. "It's kind of like the stadium is so amazing you want to pay amazing in it. That's how I feel like when I'm out there. I want to put on a show."

On the field and off, the Cowboys have accomplished just that.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Does Dallas' Roy Williams Need To Be Demoted?

by Derek Major Derek MajorContributor

Two weeks after Miles Austin's record setting game against the Chiefs, head coach Wade Phillips promoted Austin into the second receiver spot and demoted Patrick Crayton to the third receiver spot.

But did Phillips demote the wrong receiver?

Since Cowboys owner Jerry Jones traded for Roy Williams, he's done nothing but underachieve. Williams used to make catches like this every once in a while if nothing else, but not anymore. Instead, he just drops passes or doesn't even get targeted by Tony Romo.

During the preseason many analysts said that Romo and Williams need to develop some chemistry, but that hasn't happened yet. Williams is fourth on the Cowboys in yards, hasn't had a TD since week 1 and running back Tashard Choice has more receptions than Williams.

Since Williams joined the Cowboys he's played 17 games caught 31 passes for 428 yards and two TD's.

In the last two games, Austin has 16 catches for 421 and four TD's. Now I'll be the first to admit that Austin's last two games were fantastic, but that's what happens when a receiver does his job.

Williams has been called out on NFL Network's Playbook and ESPN's NFL Live as being lazy in and out of his breaks and waiting for the ball to get to him instead of going after it.

Williams was targeted five times in Sunday's game against the Falcons but only caught one pass for 15 yards, and dropped two passes. One drop came on third down of the first possession for the Cowboys and Williams' drop forced them to punt.

Meanwhile, Crayton hasn't been great but his demotion motivated him. He had just two catches for nine yards but made the most of it with a TD and a punt return for a TD. He's also third on the team in catches and yards.

Crayton also had something to say after Sunday's game.

"There you go," Crayton said of winning the punt return job back by default last week. "I've been dealing with that my whole career. He can't get it done. He's too slow. He can't run. He ain't fast. He ain't a deep threat. We've got him back there to catch punt returns because he can catch them. Not really to score, just to catch them. Good. I appreciate that."

Crayton is the type of guy who lets criticism motivate him, He wasn't upset at all by the demotion at punt returner or wide receiver, instead he just went out and did his job.

Despite all of this evidence, Williams won't get demoted no matter what and the reason is simple; Wade Phillips.

Jerry Jones owns Phillips, and Jones doesn't want to admit that Williams has been a disappointment since he got to Dallas, and in a contract year, Phillips won't go against Jones.

Jones said on his radio show last week, "I'm glad we got him because we got where we want to be - a young wide receiver in Miles Austin on the way up and a chance to stretch the field, and then Roy Williams as your No.1 receiver with a chance to have a great year because of how hard he's been working."

Williams either has Jones deceived or Jones simply won't admit his mistake considering he has Williams locked up for another four years. Right now, Williams' isn't a No. 1 receiver; he hasn't been since the day Calvin Johnson was drafted.

Williams needs to be demoted, simply because Romo barely looks at him. At some point Austin's production will slow down, and Romo will have to look at his tight ends a lot more without another receiver able to get open.

Player Update: Allen Rossum, CB

Newly signed kick returner Allen Rossum is out two to four weeks because of a hamstring injury sustained on his first return with the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys' D turns up heat

By Jaime Aron

IRVING, Texas - Put a little pressure on a quarterback and a defence can force an incompletion, a sack or an interception. Put a lot of pressure on a quarterback and all kinds of good things can happen.

Just look at the Dallas Cowboys.

After going without a sack the first 10 quarters of the season, the Cowboys have 14 in the last 14 quarters. Turnovers have spiked in that span and so have the wins - three in four games, including two in a row. And after months of stalled negotiations, Jerry Jones this week agreed to give the richest contract in team history to his best applier of pressure, DeMarcus Ware.

"When you really break down the film and look at each week, we were hitting the quarterback a lot and causing a lot of havoc in the backfield, we just weren't getting any sacks," linebacker Keith Brooking said Wednesday. "It was like, 'Well, we're getting the pressure. The sacks will come as long as we keep doing what we're doing.' You're starting to see that coming to the surface now."

The Cowboys led the NFL last season with 59 sacks, so the slow start was surprising. But it's not like they were putting up big sack totals the first six games of last season. They actually had only one more than they do right now.

Ware had 20 sacks last season, so the bigger surprise - and cause for concern - was seeing him stuck at zero through four games. The theory was that offences were loading up against him because they didn't have to worry about the other outside linebacker, Anthony Spencer, a first-time starter.

But Ware picked up two sacks against Kansas City, then had two more last Sunday against Atlanta's Matt Ryan, who'd gone down only twice all season. He's only two behind last year's six-game tally, despite playing through a stress fracture in his left foot.

"It just adds to his legend," defensive end Marcus Spears said.

What makes Dallas so effective is that most sacks come from its base defence, not blitzes. It also helps to have them coming from all over - eight players so far, same as Minnesota, which leads the NFL with 24 sacks. Last season, 14 players contributed to the Cowboys' sack total.

"We've got a real physical, real aggressive group," said coach Wade Phillips, who also is the defensive co-ordinator. "They're going to make plays, and they're starting to feel that."

Yet another thing that's clicked is improved coverage. Mike Jenkins won an in-season battle with Orlando Scandrick at left cornerback and Gerald Sensabaugh has been a good fit at strong safety. He missed three games with a broken plate in his right wrist, but picked up where he left off when he played wearing a cast this past Sunday.

The game-by-game numbers show how Dallas has steadily improved.

The Cowboys didn't have any sacks or turnovers the first two games and gave up more than 400 yards both times. Doing it against Eli Manning and the Giants was one thing, but to also have done it against immobile, error-prone (and since-benched) Byron Leftwich and Tampa Bay indicated something was out of whack.

Then Jay Ratliff broke through in Week 3, getting a sack on Jake Delhomme, and things started turning around. Rookie Victor Butler got two sacks in just a handful of plays. Jenkins got the first interception of the season in that game and Terence Newman got another that he returned for the victory-clinching touchdown.

The Cowboys haven't allowed more than 337 yards since, and that was against unbeaten Denver. Kansas City got to 302 with the benefit of overtime, while the Panthers and Atlanta Falcons were each held in the 200s.

So while the emergence of speedy receiver Miles Austin is the headline story around the Cowboys, the improved defence could be the bigger reason Dallas has crawled back near the top of the NFC.

The Cowboys (4-2) are a half-game behind the Giants in the East, with only three teams in the conference having more wins. Dallas also has a good chance to keep the momentum going this weekend at home against Seattle (2-4).

The Seahawks scored just three points and had a meagre 128 yards against Arizona in their last game. They're coming off a bye, but they're also breaking in their fourth left tackle, five if you count Walter Jones, who was being counted on to protect the quarterback's blind side. He was put on injured reserve Wednesday.

"We've still got some things to improve on," said Dallas linebacker Bradie James, a defensive captain. "We want to be more than just a pressure defence. We want to be a dominant defence. ... Holler back at me in about three games and we'll see where we are. We should be fine."

Sacks, Apparently, Were Inevitable

By Scott Crisp

"We're going to have to figure out how to get back there again, and once we start I'm pretty sure it'll be rolling."

Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears had that to offer when asked about the team's seeming inability to get to the quarterback after week two; at this point, after games at Tampa Bay and against New York, the local media seemed miffed slightly by the team's sack total which was exactly zero--and following a season that saw Dallas lead the league in this regard with 59.

It was unforeseeable, and vaguely alarming; but players, and Spears in particular, offered up some form of the aforementioned statement tirelessly. Once it begins, it will not stop. So far, it seems they hit the nail on the head. Week three would see three sacks, by Dallas, and, like clockwork, they began to pile up.

After the team's win over Atlanta, during which they got to Matt Ryan four times, the total stands at 14--not particularly remarkable for this group in general, but all things considered, kind of impressive.

Which might explain the knowing smile on Spears' face on Wednesday, when he was asked about the sudden wave of unadulterated QB harassment.

"Offenses have got to revert back to what they do," Spears said, grinning. "Obviously, you've got to account for guys, and you've got to account for '94' and you've got to account for Ratliff, but if those two guys make you change your whole game plan, then you lose the identity of your offense. Now teams are getting back to doing what they were doing.

"When we were playing these first games, I mean, you guys saw--quarterbacks throwing the ball out of bounds on the third step, 'cause they don't want to take sacks. That's still going to happen, but at the end of the day, you've got to run your offense, you've got to try to be the team that you are. Usually, when you've got a five or a seven step drop, if you're not getting rid of it, '94' or '90' are going to be there."

Out Of The Chute: Seahawks at Cowboys

By Drew Magary

Every week during the season, we’ll scout out the Cowboys next opponent. This weekend, that opponent is the Seattle Seahawks.

The Opponent: The Seattle Seahawks, aka the ‘Hawks, aka the Cobains, aka Holmgren’s Mustache Trimmings

Record: 2-4

The Line: Cowboys by 9.5.

Last Game: Before their bye last week, the Seahawks were crushed at home by the Cardinals 27-3. Matt Hasselbeck barely completed a third of his passes. Seattle managed only 128 yards, 14 on the ground. Oof. That isn’t very good.

The Coach: Jim Mora Jr. Mora was named successor to Mike Holmgren before Holmgren retired. I’ll never understand why teams do this. The Seahawks could have hired Mike Shanahan after last season, but because they had this big plan to elevate Mora, they were stuck. Now they have an uninspiring coach leading a franchise that is well on its way back to total NFL obscurity.

The Offense: The story of the Seahawks over the past two seasons and beyond is that the team flourishes with Matt Hasselbeck under center, and goes into the tank any time his bad back keeps him out of the lineup. But that loss to the Cardinals two weeks ago serves to damage that notion. After lighting up the Jaguars the previous week, Hasselbeck played horribly against Arizona. He’s got plenty of weapons at his disposal: TJ Housh, Nate Burleson, excellent young TE John Carlson. If Hasselbeck continues playing this unevenly, it may be well be time for the Seahawks to begin looking for his replacement. Perhaps they should have started doing that already. The Seattle running game is also spotty at best. Backup TB Justin Forsett is their best all-purpose back, but Julius Jones gets most of the touches. You Dallas fans remember Julius, don’t you? He was so good every sixth week!

The Defense: Seattle ranks a surprising 12th in overall defense and 7th in points allowed. But those rankings may be skewed by two brutally lopsided wins against the Jaguars and Rams. It takes more than an average defense to stop the Dallas offense, the way Miles Austin and company have been balling of late. Star linebacker Lofa Tatupu is done for the year. Uh oh…

Bonus Scouting Report From Seahawk Fan Matt Ufford: “I can't convince myself that this team is better than a 2-4 record, but I don't think it's terrible, either. Their two wins were convincing shutouts at home. The Jags aren't terrible, and a shutout is nothing to scoff at. That's kicking the tomato cans you're served -- what you're supposed to do. As for the Cards loss, they were down 14-0 before the offense ever took the field, then unable to handle Whiz's blitzes the rest of the day. The defense is better than average, and the offense is uneven with flashes of brilliance in the passing game. I would neither bet for, nor against them, especially since the same thing can be said about the Cowboys.”

Key Matchup: DeMarcus Ware vs. Brandon Frye. From their Super Bowl appearance in 2005, the Seahawks recent misfortunes can be traced back to two things: 1) Hasselbeck’s deteriorating health, and 2) The loss of Steve Hutchinson and the decline of Walter Jones on the O-line. That used to be the best left side of any offensive line in football. That is no longer the case. This is a team that struggles to run the ball at all times, and needs to keep their passer upright to have a chance. If Ware gets to Hasselbeck and plants his bald head in the turf early and often, this game is easy money for Dallas.

Jones Responds To Smith's Complaints

By Scott Crisp

Falcons' head coach Mike Smith caused a mini-stir of sorts on Sunday when, during Fox's telecast, he was seen screaming furiously and incredulously at an official about the sun seeping into the Cowboys Stadium from the visitor's endzone. (Damn you, Helios!)

The complaint, of course, was that the sun was a hindrance to the struggling Falcons. Troy Aikman, during the telecast, said that the stadium had a curtain to remedy such situations, and expressed confusion as to why it wasn't used.

For Jerry Jones, these complaints are about as moving as a damp washcloth. The owner, on 105.3 The Fan this morning, kind predictably said that the sun not only was not a problem, but that its presence was by design.

"Our stadium was built to maximize the sunlight coming into it in every direction, that's the way it was built, that's why it's a three million square foot building, yet the light is terrific in there," Jones said on Tuesday. "So anything we do with curtains has more to do with other events that need to be dark in case you still have the light of the day at a six or seven PM event, but not for football."

Jones went on to assert, in not so many words, that the team didn't have to do a damn thing, if they so chose, downplaying Smith's complaints.

"That's our decision," Jones said. "We had an option that we could have used as home field, but that would've had to be done at the half, so [Smith] was probably asking about that."

Brooking Putting Emotional Victory Behind Him

By Scott Crisp

No one in the Dallas Cowboys locker room was more thrilled with the team's 37-21 victory over the Falcons last Sunday than Keith Brooking, the linebacker who--if you haven't heard--played for eleven seasons in Atlanta. Pair that tidbit with the fact that, over the course of the season thus far, Brooking has established himself as an emotional team leader, and the veteran's mindset in moving on will likely set the tone for the rest of the locker room.

The key for Brooking and, in turn, the Cowboys, is a balance of confidence and humility--of swagger and, as Brooking terms it, "humble pie."

"This is a game of momentum," Brooking said on Wednesday. "It's a game of confidence, and we just have to keep on eating our humble pie. We played one really solid game across the board, offensively, defensively and special teams, so at the end of the day, you've got to look at the big picture and you just got to keep that going."

Keeping with a season-long trend, Brooking asserted his belief that Dallas has the pieces in place to be a true contender; the key in making this possibility a reality, though, is found in a cliche seemingly as old as the game itself: taking it one game at a time. For Brooking, in the wake of maybe the most gratifying win in his almost 12-year career, this was no easy task.

"We've said all along that we have what it takes here, and we believe that with all of our hearts, but this is a what have you done for me lately league," Brooking continued. "I realize that, and you've got to believe that with all of your heart when you say it, and go out and do it each week, and we've put that one behind us. Trust me, that's hard for me to do.

"I want to keep thinking about that one this last Sunday, but when I walked through these doors today I put it behind me and we got to move on to the Seahawks now."

Seahawks-Cowboys Preview

Associated Press

Tony Romo has found a No. 1 receiver in Miles Austin to solve the Dallas Cowboys' passing-game woes. The Seattle Seahawks wish they had similar chemistry between Matt Hasselbeck and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

The Cowboys will try to improve to 3-0 with Austin as a starter Sunday when they host the Seahawks, who are hoping a week off will help Houshmandzadeh get untracked.
Romo had four touchdowns and four interceptions through four games for Dallas (4-2) before Austin was inserted into the lineup Oct. 11 for an injured Roy Williams. Austin set a franchise record with 250 yards receiving on 10 catches with two touchdowns, including a 60-yard score in overtime, in a 26-20 win at Kansas City.

That took the Cowboys into their bye week and Austin delivered another big performance last Sunday in a 37-21 win over Atlanta. He had six catches for 171 yards and two more TDs.

Romo has thrown for 662 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in the last two games, and knows Austin deserves plenty of the credit.

"He's definitely a big part of this offense," Romo said. "I'm glad to see all his hard work and effort is paying off."

It's a different story in Seattle (2-4) for Houshmandzadeh, one of the prime free-agent receivers last spring following seasons of 90, 112 and 92 receptions with Cincinnati the previous three years - the most in the NFL in that span.

Houshmandzadeh has 31 catches this season, tied for 19th in the league, and has just two touchdowns after signing a five-year contract that is believed to be worth $40 million, with $15 million guaranteed.

It hasn't helped matters that Hasselbeck, a three-time Pro Bowler, missed two games with broken ribs that still haven't fully healed. The Seahawks had their bye after Hasselbeck completed 10 of 29 passes for 112 yards and was sacked five times in a 27-3 home loss to Arizona on Oct. 18.

Houshmandzadeh had four catches for 34 yards and has grown frustrated over the situation. The pair spent extra time working together during the bye week.

"We'll find out when the games matter," Houshmandzadeh said. "It's easy to do at practice, when no one's on you."

The quarterback believes there's no easy explanation for his inability to get the ball more to his top target.

"Just trying to figure out what we're good at," Hasselbeck said. "One of those things is just to be automatic with some of the guys I throw the ball to and get some routes where we feel that confidence, that 'automatic' confidence. That breeds consistency. We're close some times, but we misfire. We have to fix that as quickly as we can."

After dealing with questions about Houshmandzadeh's complaints, Hasselbeck endured more bad news when he was forced to spend the weekend at the hospital because his 6-year-old daughter got hit by a dirt bike on a family excursion.

Things could get even worse Sunday with a motivated DeMarcus Ware chasing him around. The three-time Pro Bowl linebacker agreed Monday to a $78 million, six-year deal through the 2015 season that guarantees him $40 million.

"I feel like I work really hard and am really deserving of what they've given me," Ware said. "All this is behind me now. It's time to get to work. You know what it's time to bring home. I'm not going to say what it is, we're just going to show you, and I'm going to show you."

Seattle lost 34-9 at Dallas last Thanksgiving as Ware had three of the Cowboys' seven sacks of Hasselbeck.

"I think people have definitely counted us out," Hasselbeck said. "There's a lot of negativity around our team. I've heard people say, 'This season is over. We've got no chance.' That's ridiculous. That's absolutely ridiculous.

"This is an opportunity for us to pull together and prove people wrong."

Romo completed 22 of 34 passes for 331 yards and three touchdowns in last year's meeting, and he's starting to resemble that player with Austin in the lineup.

"I think that you've got a wiser and you've got a more experienced Tony Romo than of old, and I think you see he's still got some of that instinctive thing that he can make plays and make winning plays," owner Jerry Jones said.

A trip to Jerry World

Nick Eilerson, Cavalier Daily Columnist
October 28, 2009

As a diehard football fan, I was eager to skip Virginia’s game against Georgia Tech this past weekend. For me, some things are just more important than college football — like professional football, for instance.

For a lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan like me, the perfect Sunday afternoon is spent in the sublime comfort of the brand-spanking new Cowboys Stadium watching quarterback Tony Romo befuddle defenses and wondering how in the heck those little wires hold up that 1.2 million pound video screen above the field. This past Sunday, my dream became reality.

Some years ago, when we heard that the ever-modest Jerry Jones was planning to build the greatest football stadium the world has ever seen, my family made a decision: We had to go. For the sake of our undying fanhood, we simply had to catch a game in the Cowboys’ first season there. When Dallas finalized its 2009-10 schedule, we had a hard time choosing which contest to attend. In the end, we settled on the Falcons game. Good call, us.

On Saturday morning, we embarked on our journey to the town of my birth, eagerly anticipating Dallas’ critical matchup with the 4-1 Falcons.

Upon first glance about a mile outside the place, it seemed clear that what awaited us was either the giant UFO from the movie “Independence Day” or the Death Star itself. This thing is enormous, especially amid the myriad of sheisty auto shops and car dealerships that comprise the rest of Arlington, Texas.

The outside of the building is almost entirely covered by glass, including two 120-foot glass doors in both end zones that slide open at the press of a button. I was also especially pleased to find several enormous televisions outside that allowed fans to watch every noon game being played.

Speaking of TVs, they were absolutely everywhere inside the stadium. They litter the place like cockroaches in a Manhattan apartment. Except that instead of disgusting bugs, they are all picture perfect Sony LCD flat screens. I kept trying to look in a certain direction to see if I could avoid having a television anywhere in my field of vision, but to no avail.

Among the more than 3,000 TVs, however, one in particular sort of stood out the most: JerryVision — the 60-yard-long video display board 90 feet above the field. It’s the largest high-definition television screen in the world, costing more than $40 million to construct — allegedly more than the entire cost of the Cowboys’ former home, Texas Stadium. After finding our seats about two hours prior to kickoff, we sat back and watched the Steelers-Vikings game being played on the gargantuan screen, all the while monitoring the punters’ warm-up kicks (none of which we saw hit the board).

Wandering along the 1.5 mile trek around the inside of the stadium, I tried not to blink for fear of missing something amazing, as every little detail was impressive: huge blue and white football-shaped light fixtures above the concourse, prime rib and free drinks in the club level, elevators and escalators everywhere, bars wrapped in crocodile leather, hundreds of luxury suites, random artwork making every area unique. But nothing could compare to the Miller Lite Club.

At Cowboys Stadium, players enter the field through a bar, something we definitely had to check out. With beer in hand and camera phone in the air, I hooted and hollered at the top of my lungs with all the other rabid fans as the players I had come to know via television strutted right by me within arm’s reach. There went Romo, looking surprisingly large in real life, and there was Marion Barber, adjusting his black band over a sinewy arm that could tear me in half, and oh Lord … there lumbered Flozell Adams, possibly the largest living creature I have ever encountered.

After all the hoopla of pregame introductions, we scrambled back to our seats, which were nicely positioned across the 40 yard-line about halfway up. We were actually some five rows below and to the left of Troy Aikman and the NFL on FOX booth. Before the game, I waved frantically up at Troy and, although I can’t be completely certain, I’m pretty sure we made eye contact.

All the amenities and distractions made me temporarily forget about the significance of the game itself, but when kickoff rolled around I buckled down and zeroed in on the action. The Falcons got the ball first, and they didn’t let the distractions of Jerry World phase them. After a methodical opening drive that ended in seven points for the visitor, I shook my head and hoped we hadn’t come all this way to witness an embarrassing beat down.

As it turned out, we did end up witnessing an embarrassing beat down, although it was thankfully in our favor. Gleeful high fives and hugs abounded as we watched our Cowboys roll to a decisive 16 point victory. The Dallas offense I’ve been waiting for all season finally emerged right before my eyes, as Tony Romo resiliently recovered from a first quarter neck injury to pick the Falcons defense apart for 311 yards and three touchdowns en route to the offense’s highest point total of the year. Meanwhile, Miles Austin continued to dazzle, racking up 171 yards and two touchdowns to solidify his new role as the team’s No. 1 receiver. Austin is quickly becoming the Tony Romo of receivers, an undrafted free agent whose sudden success has morphed him into one of the league’s top players.

The defense recovered beautifully after the opening drive, forcing four turnovers and making Falcons quarterback “Matty Ice” look more like “Fatty Lice” (yes, that’s the best I could come up with). Particularly inspiring was the play of Keith Brooking, the 33 year-old linebacker who was dealt to the Cowboys this season after 11 years with the Falcons. According to Brooking, the last thing Falcons coaches told him before releasing him was that the NFL was a “young man’s game.” Although his numbers on the day were not particularly impressive (two tackles), the team’s second-leading tackler unleashed all his anger on the field as he furiously helped clog running lanes and pursue ball-carriers. Brooking was easily the most enthusiastic player out there, pumping his arms and glaring at the Atlanta sideline after almost every play.

At a cost of approximately $1.15 billion, Cowboys Stadium is truly the epitome of excess, the very embodiment of an American culture driven by the words bigger, better and faster. Nothing about it is cheap, as the tickets are the most expensive in the league. Heck, even a 20-inch pizza costs $60. But it’s also a highly unique commodity in the sports world, providing a fan experience unlike any other. It’s a surreal sporting icon, the stuff of fantasy, and it’s likely a pioneer in the future trends of sporting experiences. For me, though, it was ultimately the stellar play of my favorite team that pleased me the most.

And if you still think watching the game at home beats being there, think about the difference between suffering through commercials and staring at crystal-clear images of those well-proportioned Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders via JerryVision. Trust me, folks, it’s well worth it…

Player Update: Allen Rossum, CB

Source: Dallas Morning News

Cowboys KR/PR Allen Rossum's hamstring strain will keep him out indefinitely.

Patrick Crayton, the Week 7 NFC special teams Player of the Week, will take over on punts. Miles Austin and Felix Jones are options to return kickoffs.

Fox Sport's Howie Long: This is the Cowboys team we expected

by Howie Long

Well, the Dallas Cowboys we thought we'd see in September finally showed up in October. It was a very impressive win over the Atlanta Falcons, a team I said in the pregame show has a coaching staff that squeezes every ounce of talent out of their team.

The Cowboys won going away, 37-21, and that was pretty remarkable, considering the Falcons' opening scoring drive, where they drove the length of the field, taking 16 plays and over seven minutes to score first. It looked like the same old Cowboys.

But Dallas came back, thanks to its defensive front. That unit, with some help from the special teams, won this game. They put constant pressure on Matt Ryan, sacking him four times, forcing three fumbles (one recovered) and two interceptions. Ryan entered the game having only been sacked twice in his first five games.

The Cowboys were also impressive with their balanced offense, with 28 rushes and 29 Tony Romo passes. The running game, even with the return of Felix Jones, struggled, but Romo found his rhythm and played his best game of the season. He took off and secured some drives with some first-down scrambles while completing 21 of 29 for 311 yards and three touchdowns.

Romo's new best friend, Miles Austin, got behind Atlanta's secondary for two touchdowns and finished with 171 yards in his first start. This is the same Austin who scored twice, including in overtime, to beat the Chiefs.

Before the bye, Dallas survived in a pretty shaky win in Kansas City. And by beating Atlanta, they finally beat a team with a winning record. It could end up being a pivotal win when deciding playoff berths. I also liked that they were very aggressive on defense, willing to put their bodies on the line. Rookie Michael Jenkins may end up being fined for his helmet hit on a Falcons receiver, but this is football and it will show future opponents that the Cowboys are willing to hit you. I didn't like the eight penalties, but Dallas is in position to make a little run. They have Seattle, Washington and Oakland around two road games in Philadelphia and Green Bay. This team looks like it has a chance to do just that.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tony Romo on top!


The Cowboys quarterback pulled it all together in his team’s impressive 37-21 win over the Falcons, in what was easily his best game of the year. He displayed the mobility that has made him so dangerous to defend, and he outgunned Atlanta’s Matt Ryan.

Along the way, he also climbed onto the “official” NFL leaderboards in several categories.

With his 29 attempts Sunday, Romo has now attempted 1,501 passes in his career – the NFL requires a minimum 1,500 attempts to quality for its official records.

So Romo enters the record books today in some very, very lofty company.

His career passer rating of 94.7 (also his rating this year) is third all time. Here's the top five in career passer rating:
Steve Young – 96.8
Peyton Manning – 95.4
Tony Romo – 94.7
Kurt Warner – 93.5
Tom Brady – 93.4
Philip Rivers, who joined the "official" list earlier this year, is No. 6 at 93.3.

Now look at the top five in career passing yards per attempt:

Otto Graham – 8.63
Sid Luckman – 8.42
Norm Van Brocklin – 8.16
Tony Romo – 8.14
Steve Young – 7.984

Tony Romo is not only in the top five all time, he's the most prolific passer since Norm Van Brocklin retired at the end of the 1960 season. He's also one of just two players who appears on both lists, with Steve Young. This indicates that he's produced the highly efficient rating indicative of the modern game, with the very high average per attempt more common in earlier years of NFL football, before the "ball-control" style passing game became all the rage.

(Kurt Warner (7.977) and Ben Roethlisberger (7.968) are just a shade behind Young on the career YPA list and may even replace him in the top five by the end of the year.)

Romo is now in the top 5 in all-time in Yards per Attempt


•Not only did Tony Romo justify his lofty spot in my rankings, but, he actually moved up one spot to the number 3 spot following a big day (9.6 Y/A) against the Falcons.

◦Tony Romo gets a good amount of criticism - is it all unwarranted? According to ColdHardFootballFacts, Tony Romo is now in the top 5 in all-time Y/A. In fact, among the top 5, only Romo and Steve Young have played since 1960. These are some pretty impressive stats for a guy who catches a lot of grief.

Aikman 2009 Efficiency Ratings Through Week 7

On Tuesday 27th October 2009,
@Troy_Aikman said:


Aik NFL Team AER
1 4 Colts (a) 94.0
2 1 Saints (n) 94.0
3 5 Ravens (a) 90.1
4 3 Patriots (a) 88.9
5 12 Vikings (n) 87.3
6 15 Dolphins (a) 85.6
7 2 Cowboys (n) 85.1
8 8 Packers (n) 85.1
9 14 Bengals (a) 84.2
10 7 Steelers (a) 83.3
11 19 Falcons (n) 83.0
12 9 Broncos (a) 82.6
13 6 Giants (n) 82.0
14 17 Eagles (n) 79.7
15 16 Jets (a) 79.5
16 11 Jaguars (a) 79.2
17 13 Chargers (a) 76.4
18 10 Texans (a) 76.2
19 29 49ers (n) 75.3
20 18 Cardinals (n) 73.0
21 21 Bears (n) 71.6
22 30 Chiefs (a) 71.1
23 23 Seahawks (n) 71.0
24 25 Lions (n) 70.3
25 28 Buccaneers (n) 68.0
26 22 Titans (a) 67.2
27 24 Redskins (n) 65.7
28 20 Panthers (n) 63.8
29 27 Bills (a) 62.9
30 26 Rams (n) 56.2
31 32 Raiders (a) 54.1
32 31 Browns (a) 53.0

NFL Average 76.3


Aik NFL Team AER
1 2 Broncos (a) 90.6
2 11 Saints (n) 85.2
3 7 Eagles (n) 83.7
4 10 Jets (a) 83.5
5 17 Vikings (n) 82.8
6 15 Cardinals (n) 82.1
7 3 Packers (n) 81.8
8 6 Patriots (a) 81.1
9 9 Colts (a) 80.9
10 5 Redskins (n) 80.7
11 8 Steelers (a) 80.1
12 20 Bengals (a) 78.6
13 25 Falcons (n) 77.4
14 12 Seahawks (n) 76.7
15 19 Ravens (a) 74.9
16 14 49ers (n) 74.9
17 13 Dolphins (a) 73.0
18 24 Bills (a) 72.5
19 1 Giants (n) 72.4
20 4 Panthers (n) 70.9
21 22 Cowboys (n) 69.2
22 23 Jaguars (a) 68.7
23 28 Raiders (a) 68.4
24 29 Chiefs (a) 66.4
25 18 Chargers (a) 66.3
26 21 Texans (a) 66.0
27 27 Buccaneers (n) 65.2
28 16 Bears (n) 64.6
29 32 Browns (a) 64.4
30 26 Lions (n) 61.6
31 31 Titans (a) 61.6
32 30 Rams (n) 59.9

NFL Average 73.7

Ratings Courtesy of STATS, LLC

Richie Whitt: My Top 10 Observations

By Richie Whitt in Dallas Cowboys

10. Linebacker Keith Brooking's performance and passion is refreshing. The way he was running past and taunting Atlanta's bench and his old Falcons' teammates after big plays today, he's quickly become the Cowboys' version of Brian Dawkins. All great teams have one.

9. A 16-point blowout of a quality opponent is nice. But you can't discount the fact that the Cowboys had a big advantage coming off their bye week. They are now 16-5 all-time off the bye, including wins in eight of their last nine.

8. Another giant game from Miles Austin (6-171-2). Are you the least bit bothered that the dude facially resembles A-Rod?

7. I don't think it's too early for this: The Cowboys' No. 1 receiver is Miles Austin and their best cornerback is Mike Jenkins. Any argument?

6. Maybe I somehow missed this, but where are the banners for the Cowboys' five Super Bowl championships hanging in Cowboys Stadium? Don't tell me someone forgot them in Texas Stadium.

5. Nothing more strange than seeing Nate Newton hug Tanya Tucker outside the Cowboys' locker room.

4. At 11:15 a.m. tight end Martellus Bennett was Twittering Twatting Tweeting about T-shirts and ticket giveaways. Then he goes out and catches three passes, his best game of the season. Tweet away, Marty B. Tweet away.

3. Credit to the Cowboys' pass rush. They sacked Matt Ryan four times after he had been nabbed only twice in 156 passing attempts entering today. Seems like a good week for DeMarcus Ware to nudge owner Jerry Jones about those contract extension talks.

2. That, my friends, is vintage Tony Romo. Not just the accurate throwing day and flawless decision-making that led to 21 of 29 for 311 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was the David Blaine escape from three Falcons' linemen en route to finding Patrick Crayton for a 5-yard touchdown pass just before halftime that reminded us that Romo can indeed be an elite NFL quarterback. Only a handful of guys have the skill - or will - to make that play. Said Romo, "Sometimes safe is death. You have to do something extraordinary every once in a while." For what it's worth, Romo often wore his cap bill forward on the sideline and donned a Payne Stewart Tam O'Shanter after the game. Good to have you back, Tony. We missed you.

1. After a week in which he was demoted at receiver (by Miles Austin) and kick returner (by Allen Rossum), Patrick Crayton scores touchdowns via reception and punt return. If he was awarded a game ball, I wonder if head coach Wade Phillips bothered to check to see if anyone told him about it?

ESPN: Cowboys, Crabtree, Palmer see stock rise

By Eric Karabell
Eric Karabell Blog

Nobody in fantasy football has seen his stock rise quicker of late than Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys. We keep talking and writing about this emerging wide receiver, maybe because we're surprised, or maybe because it all seems so legit. The record for most receiving yards in a player's first two starts (since the merger) had been held by Anquan Boldin since 2003, with 279. Austin has 421 yards in his past two games.

Austin's emergence is good for Tony Romo, good for the running game (although it would be nice to see Marion Barber and Felix Jones do a bit more) and … wait a minute, what's wrong with Jason Witten? Even before Miles Austin became a household name and Roy E. Williams went to the waiver wire in many leagues, Witten wasn't doing much. He's 16th among tight ends in points, and still hasn't broken double digits in a game. That didn't stop ESPN fantasy owners from making him the fifth-most-active tight end in Week 7, though. Honestly, I don't think Witten is someone to drop, but it's a bad sign that he hasn't been targeted in the red zone in a month. Obviously, Witten's stock has dropped since draft day. The Cowboys seem to always have players rapidly moving up (Romo) or down (Tashard Choice), don't they?

Know Your Wade Replacements: Jon Gruden

By Drew Magary

Every week from now on, we’ll profile potential replacements for Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, should he be fired by the end of the season. Even when Wade wins! Today, it’s Jon Gruden!

Name: Jon David Gruden. Weird. The Jon isn’t short for Jonathan. I would NOT have guessed that.

Career Record: 95-81

Nicknames: Chucky. Gru. Freckles. “THIS GUY.”

Credentials: Super Bowl champion. And to all those people who said Gruden won a Super Bowl only because he had Tony Dungy’s team, you are wrong. The reason the Bucs crushed the Raiders that year was because Gruden knew the entire Raiders playbook, which Bill Callahan was too breathtakingly dumb to revamp. In 11 years as a head coach, Gruden had only three losing seasons. Every game that Raheem Morris loses makes the Bucs look dumber and dumber for letting Gruden go. Also, it’s fun to have him as your coach and see him walk around on the sidelines crazy pissed every game. It would be a refreshing change from Wade’s sideline demeanor, which is one of constant surprise and confusion.

Of the current crop of available big name coaches out there (Shanahan, Cowher, Gruden, Holmgren, etc.), Gruden is probably the one least likely to demand a general manager role with the team as well. That leaves him free to let the Double J keep doing what he does, which I guess is a plus?

Also, did you know Gruden never sleeps? It’s true. He sleeps for only five minutes a night. And when he sleeps, he sleeps with his eyes open, listening to a Rosetta Stone tape of defensive formation callouts.

Weaknesses: Never shuts up on Monday Night Football. Said Jake Delhomme led the league in grit. Goes through quarterbacks like Wade goes through boxes of Swiss Cake Rolls. Nobody gets bored with a QB faster than Gru. He’s a quarterbackizer. He loves them, and then he leaves them. And then he brings in Jeff Garcia. Next thing you know, Romo is shipped out of town and you’re stuck with Billy Jake Plummerhommebert.

Odds Of Being Named The Next Cowboys Coach: 5/1. Wade looks fairly secure in his position this week, but all it takes in one miserable showing against Seattle to make fans call for his head again. Gruden is the perfect fit for both the Cowboys and Redskins in that he won’t ask for too much power, and he’s a flashy name to bring in to run things.

Do You Want Him?: Only you know for sure. Let us know in the comments.

What To Do With All These Weapons?

By Scott Crisp

After six games this season, the Dallas Cowboys have encountered myriad problems. A lack of discipline that's resulted in too many untimely penalties, an awful couple of games by Tony Romo, poor two-minute defense, etc. Of all these problems that have emerged, or will emerge, though, one (and just one) can be read as a "good problem" (which I guess, by definition would make it not a problem at all).

The Dallas Cowboys might have too many weapons.

This is most obviously seen in the case of Roy Williams, whose weapon-ness is certainly a subject of debate; but for the sake of argument, he is the perfect example. Williams has been the subject of criticism for most of this year, kind of justifiably, considering he is paid like a no. 1 receiver, called a no. 1 receiver and has performed more like a no. 3, at best.

With 12 catches, 230 yards and a touchdown in five games this season, Williams has, by his own admission, underachieved in his time with Dallas. Also by his own admission, he played "terrible" against Atlanta, with two pretty inexplicable drops. So, again for the sake of argument, I'll exclude that performance, one well deserving of criticism.

Williams was ripped in the wake of week two, a loss to New York. Williams had one catch, for 18 yards in the loss to the Giants. Obviously, this was not the kind of week one would hope for from their team's first receiver.

As it was a loss, Williams' lack of production was cited in the obligatory list of reasons why Dallas didn't win. But this was far from the case. Williams wasn't the problem--he wasn't a factor, but he wasn't the problem, either. Dallas ran 29 times for 251 yards, putting up 31 points against a defense often thought to be the best in the division if not the conference.

That is, Williams fell victim to an offense ripe with weapons--he wasn't a factor, because he didn't really have to be--and, ultimately, a faltering defense.

Williams, unlike Terrell Owens, at least, seems to understand this fact. He has yet to start a nasty rumor about Jason Garrett, or whine about Jason Witten (that we know of), which it seems, would make this strictly a perceived problem on the part of the media, one which won't really affect the team.

This issue (or non-issue) can also be seen in Dallas's backfield, which could accurately be described as 'crowded.' But as long as this isn't a pervasive issue for Tashard Choice, whose playing time is most often the victim of this crowding, it can hardly be considered a 'problem' in any real sense.

Like any such issue, positive or negative, real or perceived, in the NFL, any word of this one will go away. All Dallas has to do is keep winning.

As for Williams, and his $9 million a year contract, that might be a different story.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Austin's emergence makes Cowboys more diverse

By Eric Edholm

In two games, the Cowboys offense has completely changed. Sandwiching the bye week, WR Miles Austin has set a club record for yards in consecutive games (421) and has become the team's go-to wide receiver. Austin now has only seven fewer yards in two games than Roy Williams has in 17 games as a Cowboy (428). And Austin is making people forget about Williams, or at least treat him like a very distant No. 2 option. He also has earned a new saying around the Lone Star State: Austin is the capital of Texas.

The PFW spin

So just how good is Austin? Can he keep up this ridiculous pace?

You almost forget that the Cowboys' response when asked about why they released Terrell Owens was Austin. He was the reason, the team said, it cut T.O. We didn't believe them completely then, but perhaps we should now. Owens has 18 catches for 242 yards and one TD on the season in Buffalo. That's, like, five quarters' work for Austin.

Joking aside, the difference in the player — and the team — since Austin's emergence is clear. He has opened up more possibilities for coordinator Jason Garrett, and teams now must defend the Cowboys sideline to sideline. Austin's best work has been done on the edges so far. We always knew he had the speed to get downfield, but he also is using better technique and running crisper routes to get away from man coverage and safety help.

Most of Austin's yards have come after the catch, and his ability to escape tackles has been phenomenal. On the first touchdown, he ran a deep crossing post route and got into a footrace with the Falcons' safety, Thomas DeCoud, for a 59-yard TD. Later, when the Cowboys were up 17-14 late in the third, Austin beat the physical coverage of CB Brent Grimes on a sharp out route and broke the tackle for a 22-yard score.

Give credit to Tony Romo: He's trying to find the open guy. He has gone away from TE Jason Witten lately, and he's not forcing the ball into Williams. He didn't do it last season with Owens, and he's not trying to do it this season.

Austin only had shown these glimpses before, mostly in practice. He was having a terrific offseason, and sources close to the team saw a confidence in him they hadn't seen before. Only a hamstring injury in training camp prevented him from winning the starting flanker job outright to start the season. Cowboys officials knew Austin would get his chance once he was healthy, but they had no idea he would flourish the way he has so explosively in these two games.

With Austin, Witten, Felix Jones, Marion Barber and Tashard Choice, the Cowboys have a great mix of power and speed and have become tough to defend. If they can get Williams and TE Martellus Bennett (who, like Austin, is starting his career as an athletic tease of sorts) involved occasionally, Romo could have a terrific run in the next few games against the Cowboys' softest part of the schedule.

2009 NFL Point Spreads For Week 8

Week Eight NFL Football Point Spread
NFL Spreads 11/1 - 11/2, 2009

Date & Time Favorite Spread Underdog
11/1 1:00 ET At Baltimore -3.5 Denver
11/1 1:00 ET At Chicago -13.5 Cleveland
11/1 1:00 ET Houston -3.5 At Buffalo
11/1 4:15 ET At Green Bay -3 Minnesota
11/1 1:00 ET At Indianapolis -12 San Francisco
11/1 1:00 ET At NY Jets -3.5 Miami
11/1 1:00 ET At Detroit -4 St. Louis
11/1 1:00 ET At Dallas -9.5 Seattle
11/1 4:05 ET At San Diego -17 Oakland
11/1 4:05 ET At Tennessee -3 Jacksonville
11/1 4:15 ET At Arizona -9 Carolina
11/1 1:00 ET At Philadelphia -1.5 NY Giants

Monday Night Football Point Spread

11/2 8:35 ET At New Orleans -10 Atlanta

ESPN: Sizing up Seattle's chances against Cowboys

Posted by's Mike Sando

Snake bit might be a good word to describe the Seahawks over the past two seasons.

It's fitting that the Cowboys seemed to get healthy during the Seahawks' bye week. Seattle visits a suddenly surging Cowboys team in Week 8.

A stress fracture was supposed to be limiting Cowboys pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware, right? Ware collected two more sacks and forced a fumble during the Cowboys' 37-21 victory over the Falcons on Sunday. Ware then signed a lucrative extension Monday, putting more wind in his sails while the Seahawks wait to see which backup will match up against him.

Damion McIntosh, come on down. You're the next starting left tackle unless Sean Locklear suddenly gets healthy or Walter Jones returns unexpectedly.

Seattle is a somewhat healthy offensive line away from challenging within the NFC West.

Cornerback Marcus Trufant will return this week. Linebacker Leroy Hill will probably return this week. Middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu's injury apparently isn't as bad as first thought. Getting any or all of those players back will help the Seahawks, but none of those players will help Seattle where the team needs help the most.

That's a tough situation for a team heading into a stretch with four of its next five games on the road. If I were the Seahawks, I would rather have a healthy Jones than Trufant, Hill and Tatupu back from injuries. That's how critical the situation on the Seahawks' offensive line has become.

The Anatomy of Miles Austin's 59-Yard Touchdown

By Josh Alper

We've taken a lot of shots at Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett on these pages this season, particularly his habit of calling formations and plays that fail because they are too clever by half. It's only fair, then, that we take a moment to point out when he does something very right and gets little to no credit for it.

Miles Austin's 59-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of Sunday's victory is being hailed as either a sign of Tony Romo's resurgence or Austin's emergence. That's naturally what's going to get the headlines, but what really made the play work was an expert job of understanding the Falcons' tendencies by Garrett.

The Falcons enjoy blitzing and when they do blitz they committ to it with gusto. Garrett called a play that featured only two receivers going out on patterns and fullback Deon Anderson in the game. Anderson is only there for blitz pickup, but Garrett also left Jason Witten, lined up to Flozell Adams's left, in to block. That was key, because he was 100 percent correct in assuming the Falcons would overload that side of the line with their blitz to take advantage of Trippy McHoldsalot's penchant for destroying the hopes and dreams of the Cowboys offense.

What's more, Garrett had the offense in a simple I-formation with Austin and Roy Williams split right. The Falcons had eight men in the box to protect against the run, something they had to do because Garrett established that the Cowboys were going to run the ball on Sunday. When it wasn't a run, the Falcons were left with two linebackers covering the short middle, likely looking for Witten on a hot route, while Austin broke deep on a crossing pattern in single coverage.

That meant Williams, running an in route, drew most of the attention with no help for safety Thomas DeCoud. In other words, the Falcons played right into Garrett's hands and the Cowboys executed the play exactly as it was drawn up on during practice. And it all happened because of the way Garrett linked film work and a feel for the day's game with his team's strengths.

Garrett didn't always guess right. The Falcons got a pair of sacks on blitzes, and he needed Romo to bail him out on the touchdown pass with seconds to go in the first half by spinning and dancing through blitzers before delivering a strike to Patrick Crayton. More often than not, though, Garrett pushed the right buttons because he read what the Falcons did and used that to call plays rather than just doing what he wanted without regard to the moment or the wisdom of a particular call.

That led to a proper balance of run and pass, it led to Martellus Bennett's best game of the season and, in general, an offense that was unpredictable in a good way for a change. If Garrett keeps doing that while teams change their defensive looks to account for Austin, the Cowboys will be the multi-faceted offense we heard about all offseason.

Victory Monday: Good Idea Or Bad?

By Scott Crisp

The Dallas Cowboys got the day off on Monday as a reward for a convincing conference victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Arlington Sunday. This is typical NFL protocol, nothing outrageous; but does it send the wrong message to players?

Those who would support the day off, Victory Monday, would likely say that the win was a big one, deserving of such a reward; those against it would likely agree that it was a big win, but it was the first big win. Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas falls into the latter camp, saying today, "Phillips should have brought his players in to workout Monday. Just because the team won Sunday, it doesn't mean things are fine."

Watkins has a valid point; Dallas's win was certainly an accomplishment, but it was far from an exhibition in discipline and clean football. Phillips himself said Monday that there was ample work to be done, an accurate assessment which causes one to wonder why, in the week following the bye, the team didn't at least meet for film.

Dallas committed 8 penalties for 80 yards and had two fumbles, one of which was lost; the other bounced out of bounds, a significant break. The Tony Romo-Roy Williams connection was nearly non-existent, a fact muddied by Miles Austin's second big day in as many starts.

If anything, Sunday served as proof that Dallas is a good, abundantly talented football team. But good doesn't win Super Bowls; nor does pure talent. Dallas's dominance on every side of the ball made these mistakes and miscues on Sunday forgettable for most; Phillips, though, would go a long way to remember them vividly and convey these memories in clear terms to his team.

Then again, Bum's boy has coached 123 more NFL games than I have, making his take slightly more credible than mine (but just a little). Marcus Spears, who recorded a sack on Sunday and sees no problem with Victory Monday, said that such rewards go a long way in motivating a team.

"If we went into practice or if we didn't, there will still be something for somebody to gripe about," said Spears. "I think Wade and the coaching staff are running this thing how they think they should run it. I guess outside opinion, it really doesn't matter."

Crayton credits Rossum's guidance for his strong performance...

By Gerry Fraley/Reporter

Patrick Crayton gave credit to fellow returner Allen Rossum for his strong showing on punt returns in the Dallas Cowboys win on Sunday against Atlanta.

Crayton, pressed into return duty when Rossum was injured early, ran back three punts for 87 yards. That included a 73-yard return for a touchdown. Crayton had either muffed or taken a fair catch on his previous six returns.

``He (Rossum) has shown me a lot,'' Crayton said. ``He's really been a big help to me since he's been here.''

Ware Getting $78 Million, 40M Guaranteed

Posted by nickeatman at 10/26/2009 3:45 PM CDT on

While the Cowboys are expected to announce the contract extension of DeMarcus Ware here at 4:30, it’s believed the outside linebacker will receive $40 million guaranteed over the six-year extension that will keep him with the Cowboys through 2015.

Overall, the deal is expected to be $78 million, averaging right at $13 million per season.

This off-season, the Redskins signed Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100 million deal with 40 million guaranteed.

Baltimore OLB Terrell Suggs had a $62.5 million deal with $38.5 million guaranteed and James Harrison, the Steelers pass-rusher and NFL Defensive Player of the Year received a $51 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Jets wanted Ratliff?

Michael Lombardi
National Football Post

An NFL executive suggested to me that maybe the Jets were trying to get Jay Ratliff from the Cowboys and that Ratliff was the player owner Jerry Jones was talking about as the huge deal he was offered. Tight end Marcellus Bennett is the name most often mentioned as the player Jones was referring to. Ratliff is a very good player, but I’m sure there’s no way the ‘Boys would have parted with him.

Cowboys credible with 37-21 win over Falcons

By: Calvin Watkins

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys needed to earn some creditability from somewhere.

They beat Tampa Bay in the opener, big deal. They knocked off Carolina, but that was in their second game in the new $1.12 billion Cowboys Stadium. In the first, they lost to the New York Giants.

In Kansas City, they needed overtime to win. Sad.

Sunday afternoon as the sun was peeking through, the Cowboys beat a quality team, the Atlanta Falcons, 37-21.

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who hadn't been sacked in four weeks, was sacked four times. He was picked off twice and he fumbled twice, thanks to the Cowboys' pass rush.

Nothing, it seemed, stopped the Cowboys on this late Sunday afternoon.

Patrick Crayton, who was irked at the coaches for not telling him he was getting benched, clinched the game with a 73-yard punt return for a score with 8:38 to play in the fourth quarter.

Even Crayton was smiling on that one.

Tony Romo found a new No. 1 receiver, and it didn't cost the team that much.

Miles Austin had six catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns. He should have had a third touchdown, but he dropped the ball out of bounds on his way to the end zone. In his last two games, Austin has 16 catches for 421 yards with four touchdowns. That's the best two-game stretch for a Cowboys receiver since Lance Rentzel had 368 combined yards in two consecutive games in 1967.

These Cowboys are now 4-2 and feeling good about what they've just accomplished.

Next is Seattle, a team the Cowboys should beat. If that happens, the Cowboys will be 5-2 heading into a two-game road trip to Philadelphia and Green Bay.

Cowboys coach Wade Phillips talked all last week about a win-is-a-win regardless of how it looks.

Sunday's was impressive and a good one.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cowboys Ride into Falcons Game a Banged-up Posse

from Sporting News

We've heard plenty about Marion Barber(notes) and Felix Jones(notes) (right), but injuries to those two running backs are just the start of the health issues the Dallas Cowboys face this week as they prepare to meet the Atlanta Falcons.

Barber broke a thumb two weeks ago, adding to a thigh injury from a month back. Jones will play with a bum knee.

The rest of the injury report: tackle Marc Colombo(notes) (ankle), guard Leonard Davis(notes) (thumb), center Andre Gurode(notes) (knee), safety Michael Hamlin(notes) (wrist), linebacker Curtis Johnson(notes) (hamstring), safety Gerald Sensabaugh(notes) (thumb), linebacker DeMarcus Ware(notes) (foot fracture) and receiver Roy Williams (cracked ribs).

For the Falcons, safety Antoine Harris(notes) (knee) is out, safety William Moore(notes) (hamstring) and running back Jerious Norwood(notes) (hip) are doubtful, running back Ovie Mughelli(notes) (calf) is questionable, and tight end Justin Peelle(notes) (ankle) and running back Michael Turner(notes) (chest) are probable.

Jones spent the week adjusting to a knee brace, but then was going full speed without it. It's a big chance for Jones, who was injured Sept. 28 against the Panthers. He told the Dallas Morning News he's eager to see what happens Sunday.

"I hate missing the games, missing practices with my teammates," he said. "I hate to see them out there working, and I'm not able to be out there with them."

Sensabaugh will play with a cast on his right hand, which will guard his broken thumb but allow him to move his fingers. That will make it tough in his primary assignment, covering Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez(notes). Expect him to get plenty of help.

Crayton receives support from teammates

Source: Forum: Cowboys

Tony Romo and Jason Witten were asked by media about Patrick Crayton's demotion from starting wide receiver in order to move Miles Austin into the starting lineup. Both teammates said Crayton will still have a huge role in the Cowboys offense, starter or backup.

"Patrick is a consummate professional, he understands and he's going to play a ton," said Romo. "To think that he's not going to be a major part of this offense is wrong. I think that Patrick will prepare like he always does, which is very diligently. He'll work hard and be ready to go."

"Patrick is a huge part of it," noted Witten. "You talk about the underneath stuff, Tony probably feels more confident with Patrick than he does anybody else. You're going to need Patrick. He's still a huge part of your team."

Romo was also asked if he believes the coaching staff made the right decision to move Austin up to the first team.

"Miles played a great game (in Kansas City)," replied Romo. "It's not for me to decide any of this stuff. It's for the head coach and coordinators to talk about. Those guys come up with those decisions...I have to get the guys the ball and let them make plays."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Meet Atlanta's (New) Keith Brooking

By Scott Crisp

"He's a great ballplayer and a great leader," Stephen Nicholas said. "When you've been in the league 11 or 12 years, there are things you've seen that young guys haven't, on the field and in the film room. He's definitely a guy with a lot of wisdom and know-how and the good thing for the rest of us is he's spreading it around."

Nicholas, in this quote from a recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution article, was talking about teammate Mike Peterson, a veteran linebacker who came to Atlanta this off-season, replacing Keith Brooking; but he might just as easily have been describing Brooking himself.

The similarities between the two, particularly in the way teammates describe them, are almost eerie. Coming to their new teams in 2009, Brooking and Peterson have provided a spark usually associated with youth; yet they both have more than a decade of NFL experience under their belt.

Writers in Atlanta have lauded the acquisition of Peterson, who came over from Jacksonville after six seasons, as much for his intangibles as his on-field ability; and this is no indictment of his on-field ability. Peterson is second on the team in tackles, with 43.

Brooking, who leads Dallas in tackles, came to the team this off-season under nearly identical circumstances. The 33 year-old, after 11 seasons in Atlanta, reunited with wade Phillips, under whom he garnered two Pro Bowl appearances and a second-team All-Pro selection. (Peterson played under head coach Mike Smith and defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder in Jacksonville).

Like Peterson, Brooking was quick to gain a fan base within the locker room. "He came in with the attitude that he wanted to work and just be a great teammate," said Jay Ratliff. "He plays with a lot of emotion and we just feed off of that. You can't help but follow a guy like that."

Added Bradie James, "He's added fire. He's added passion. He's very productive. I'm just happy that we got Atlanta's seconds."

In many ways, it seems that Brooking's impact on the Cowboys has been the same as Peterson's on the Falcon's, who are coming off a win over Chicago in what was a decidedly defensive game. On Sunday though, Brooking will look to prove to his old team that the similarities are limited, that letting him go after 11 years--regardless of his replacement--was a costly mistake.

Dallas Cowboys' offensive line wants to avoid playing flag football

By Bill Nichols

IRVING – It takes perspective to rate the Cowboys' offensive line.

Is it the group that paved the way for consecutive 200-yard rushing games? Or the one that surrendered five sacks against Denver?

The Cowboys' paradoxical O-line has been dominant at times, leaving a trail of would-be tacklers. But it has also left a trail of yellow flags.

Bottom line: The Cowboys average 5.9 yards per carry, tops in the NFL, and rank ninth in passing average (259.4 yards per game).

"We've had very few sacks, we've had big games passing and big games running," coach Wade Phillips. "In both of those things your offensive line has to play well. Overall we've done well, but overall we're 3-2, so we want to improve on that. We're working hard offensive-line wise to be able to do that."

On Sunday against Atlanta, Pro Bowl left tackle Flozell Adams will take on Falcons end John Abraham, who has 87 career sacks.

Adams and the offensive line have fared well in tough matchups. Against the New York Giants, the unit helped produce 251 yards rushing and 151 yards passing. Left end Osi Umenyiora and right end Justin Tuck, going against Adams, had a combined two tackles.

Against Carolina, Adams limited Julius Peppers to only one solo tackle. But Adams' solid blocking has come at a price. The league's most penalized player racked up $25,000 in fines for penalties in the first three games, including two leg whips.

"He is not doing things to hurt people," Cowboys offensive line coach Hudson Houck said. "The reason he got the penalties really was because he was out of position. He tried to get back in position and the foot came up. It wasn't malicious at all. We've got to clean up the penalties."

The offensive line is responsible for 15 of Dallas' 37 penalties. Adams has drawn seven flags – four false starts, one holding, one tripping and one unnecessary roughness. His three-game stretch of fines drew a suspension warning.

"Sometimes you're overly aggressive and it leads to penalties, but that's just part of the game," Adams said. "You have to focus better and do the things to prevent those. It's going to happen every once in a while. You just don't want it to happen all the time."

The Cowboys can live with the holdings and other aggressive plays that result in penalties. It's the pre-snap ones that hurt the most because they are self inflicted.

In practice, a false start results in getting pulled from the drill.

"It's not like we don't care about the mistakes," right guard Leonard Davis said. "We take a lot of pride in everything we do."

Houck said holding penalties are caused primarily from being off balance or improperly positioned. Practices stress technique and footwork.

"That's one of the areas that we have to improve as a team," center Andre Gurode said. "We're making a collective effort to clean those things up."

Dallas' linemen average about 327 pounds, from 307-pound left guard Kyle Kosier to 353-pound Davis. They move well despite their size, which is one reason the Cowboys use the shotgun so much.

The line deserves much credit for the big numbers. When starting tailback Marion Barber was sidelined by injury, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice ran for 176 yards. Sunday will mark the first time since the Giants game that all three tailbacks have been healthy.

If you want to be critical of the Cowboys' offensive linemen, that's OK with them.

"We don't look for any glory or anything like that," Adams said. "Stats don't mean nothing. We go out there and do our job – pass protect, run block. If they want us to go on kickoff return, we'll help those guys out, no complaints."

The Cowboys' offensive line is working to reduce penalties. The breakdown on flags thrown, whether accepted or not:

LT Flozell Adams, seven: two false start calls (Kansas City); holding (Kansas City); two false start calls (Carolina); tripping (NY Giants); unnecessary roughness (Tampa Bay)

C Andre Gurode, three: ineligible downfield (Kansas City); holding (Denver); tripping (Denver)

RT Marc Colombo, two: false start (Kansas City), holding (Carolina)

LG Kyle Kosier, two: two holding calls (Kansas City)

RG Leonard Davis, one: holding (Denver)

Final Word: NFC East

Posted by's Matt Mosley
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7.

Are the Cowboys interested in joining the division race? They gained ground on the Giants and Eagles by sitting out last weekend. Now, they'll host a very talented Atlanta team. I think offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has to commit to the running game early in this game and give this huge offensive line a chance to lean on the smaller Falcons' front. I'll be very interested to see how the Cowboys divide the carries with Marion Barber, Tashard Choice and Felix Jones. If Jones breaks a big play early in the game, there will be the temptation to keep going to him. I think the Cowboys need to be careful with Jones until he proves that he can stay in the lineup for a few games. I think it's imperative that the Cowboys get off to a strong start. Coach Wade Phillips is using a Atlanta newspaper headline ("Unstoppable") to motivate his defense to slow down the Falcons' hurry-up offense. But if DeMarcus Ware and Jay Ratliff can't throw Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan out of rhythm early, it could be a long day. Watch the Falcons try to get wide receiver Roddy White in a matchup against Cowboys cornerback Mike Jenkins. That's a very, very bad place for Jenkins to be. And I think the Falcons will try to hit on a deep ball early.

The highly anticipated debut of Skins playcaller Sherm Lewis is upon us. OK, that's probably an overstatement. No one knows what to expect from a guy who hasn't coached in almost five years and isn't familiar with the Redskins' personnel. Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his right-hand man Vinny Cerrato have become one of America's great comedy duos -- and Jim Zorn is their No. 1 prop. I think this game has disaster written all over it for the Skins. The Eagles are coming off a dreadful performance against the Raiders. I think this will look a lot more like the team that made it to the NFC title game. In my mind, the Redskins' only hope is to score on defense. I think Jason Campbell will play well, but there's not many quarterbacks who can overcome this type of adversity.

Does anyone know what happened to the Spread Eagle offense? Andy Reid left Michael Vick and the Wildcat formation against the Raiders. In past weeks, he'd claimed to be saving some things. I have no clue why you wouldn't have pulled out all the stops to escape the Black Hole with a win. Reid gets enamored with his own offensive genius at times. He needs someone on the sideline Sunday reminding him to feed the ball to Brian Westbrook and LeSean McCoy. At least make the Redskins respect the hint of a running game. And for goodness sakes, let Vick go out there and do something.

It's weird how we've pretty much buried this Giants-Cardinals game. Before the season, this appeared to be a pretty entertaining matchup. But then the Cardinals have sort of staggered around early in the season and the Giants were hammered by Drew Brees and the Saints. I think Bill Sheridan is going to bring just about everyone in an attempt to get some hits on Kurt Warner. Brees didn't have to worry about a pass-rush. You can't give Warner time to drop back and play catch with Larry Fitzgerald. In fact, I would have Fitzgerald bracketed at all times. The Cards aren't going to run the ball. Try to take Fitzgerald out of the game. That's easier said than done, but I can see the Giants having a big bounce-back game here. But if you let Warner have too much time, he'll treat the Giants like Brees did -- and it wasn't pretty.

First, the Cowboys have to slow down Burner Turner. Cowboys coach Wade Phillips has a healthy respect for Falcons running back Michael Turner, who isn't off to a fast start this season. The Cowboys have to be more disciplined than usual in their run blitzes. I've seen safety Ken Hamlin race right past running backs -- especially when they play for the Ravens. But if you get too agressive against Turner, he'll make you pay by cutting on a dime. Fortunately, inside linebacker Keith Brooking knows a thing or two about the Falcons' offense. The former Falcons Pro Bowl player will be jacked up for this one -- and it wouldn't surprise me if he ends up with 13 tackles and a sack. He's been one of the biggest positives for the Cowboys. This team has to learn how to defend it's new stadium. So far, it doesn't seem like that tough a place to play.